Arrogant official sacked after slapping boy and triggering 5-1/2 hour riot

Choi Chi-yuk
14 June 2010

If people on the mainland are becoming increasingly angry over the arrogance of government and Communist Party cadres, there may be no better example than what happened on Friday night in Anhui.

A tourist bureau chief in the central province’s city of Maanshan was sacked after slapping a teenager who had grazed his car, resulting in a riot involving thousands of people, state media reported. But even after the city’s party secretary announced the sacking, the crowd was unhappy.

Wang Guoqing, head of the tourism bureau of Huashan district, got out of his car at about 6.30pm, smacked a middle school pupil and began quarrelling with him, apparently because the bicycle the student was pushing had bumped Wang’s car, causing slight damage to one of its rear-view mirrors, the Jinling Evening News, a newspaper in Nanjing in Jiangsu province, quoted witnesses as saying in its report yesterday.

“Do you know who I am? I’m one of the leading officials in this district,” the report quoted an unidentified witness as hearing Wang say.

The remark triggered immediate public outrage, which prompted scores of bystanders to lay siege to a police vehicle carrying Wang, demanding his apology.

The report also quoted a melon vendor who said more and more passers-by grew angrier when a woman got out of Wang’s car and told the boy: “I’m a cadre with a party organ, and I’m well aware which middle school you come from. You can be sure I’ll send someone to your school, and you’ll certainly be in great trouble.”

As the crowd continued to grow – estimates said 3,000 to 4,000 – some youngsters began hurling bricks or melons from vendors’ stalls towards Wang’s car and the police vehicles.

At about 10.30pm, nearly four hours after the incident began, Zheng Weiwen, the city’s Communist Party secretary, arrived at the scene and promised to have the dispute settled soon. “If the case is not properly dealt with, please come and hold me, Zheng Weiwen, accountable for it.”

But the crowd would not disperse. At about 11.30pm, Zheng stood on a police vehicle and announced through a loudspeaker that Wang would be fired, but the crowd refused to move. About 10 minutes later, more than 100 riot police, with steel helmets and shields, were sent to rescue the besieged police vehicle, the report said.

The public grew angrier. Some started throwing water bottles at the police.

Finally, it took tear gas canisters fired around midnight to disperse the crowd, the report said.

Yuan Deqin, a district propaganda department spokeswoman, told the paper the Maanshan municipal party committee had met after midnight on Saturday and decided to sack Wang from his post.

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